National / Crime & Legal

Fukuoka court orders Japan and firms to pay ¥350 million for health problems due to asbestos

JIJI

The Fukuoka High Court on Monday ordered the government and four construction materials makers to pay some ¥350 million in damages to former construction workers and bereaved relatives in the Kyushu region over health problems caused by asbestos, such as lung cancer.

The four companies include Nichias Corp. The previous ruling on the case by the Fukuoka District Court ruled that the government should pay some ¥130 million.

In the case, 54 plaintiffs had demanded that the government and 12 companies pay a total of about ¥1.1 billion in compensation.

Monday’s decision was the fifth high court ruling on similar lawsuits filed throughout the country. It was the fourth ruling in which a high court acknowledged the responsibility of the government and companies.

In handing down the decision, presiding Judge Noriyuki Yamanouchi said that the government and the four companies were able to predict the risk of people developing diseases from construction materials containing asbestos from as far back as 1975.

He ruled that the government and the companies failed to implement necessary measures, including requiring workers to wear dust respirators.

The judge also recognized the state’s responsibility over health problems suffered by self-employed contractors, a focal point of the lawsuit. He decided that the government should pay compensation for 27 of 28 such people and that the companies will have to pay compensation to 26 people.

“We understand that some of our claims were not accepted (by the high court judge),” a labor ministry official said. “We’d like to look closely at the details of the ruling and discuss ways to handle the matter.”

A Nichias official said the judge’s failure to recognize some of the company’s claims is “regrettable.”